Partially Used

Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash
My sisters and two nieces recently visited me from out of State. It was like good medicine to my soul in so many ways. We woke up early sipping coffee, sharing insights from our past, and what God has done in the present. We stayed up late reflecting on pictures from new memories made during the day’s adventures. Laughter and joy spread throughout the house as we got silly from fatigue.

The day to pack for departure came too soon. As I searched behind them for anything forgotten I noticed a partially used bottle of shampoo left in the shower. I mentioned it a few times in hopes they would not forget it. However, when they left it was still there. As I examined the red bottle it became familiar to me. It dawned on me that it had been in my shower for several months untouched.

I had purchased another shampoo that I felt would better suit my needs rather than finishing the bottle I had. Over time I became blind to the fact it was still sitting there, partially used.

Sometimes we become blind to the fact God is right beside us, partially used.

We use Him in the moment of need, and become complacent that He is there.

We become distracted with something or someone else causing our hearts to drift from God.

We receive His peace, provision, or protection forfeiting glory due Him because our self-sufficiency kicks in.

God promises to never leave us nor forsake us and yet that is the very thing we do to Him. God may be on our lips but far from our mind, Jeremiah 12:2b.

Friend, the Lord desires us to understand and know Him; To know that He is the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, and He delights in these things, Jeremiah 9:24b.

He designed it so that when we continually abide or remain in Him He will bless us. Consider the following:

Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8 CSB)

Perhaps you struggle to remain in a consistent relationship with God. I believe most of us are guilty of that from time to time.

Maybe you have the best intentions to do better at acknowledging, praising, and fellowshipping with Him on a regular basis. You may even be successful for a week or two and then your attention is onto something or someone else. When you do you miss out on the abundant life God desires to grant you, John 10:10.

Be encouraged in knowing God is a patient God, 2 Peter 3:9! I am so thankful He is! Aren’t you?

Let’s not become defeated by our lack of commitment, but instead, strive for victory by having our hearts and minds fixed on Him. Acknowledge Him in all our ways by inviting God in the details of life. The more we practice inviting Him in the more consistent we become in our fellowship with Him. Pray for God to help you Know Him more. I dare you to pray that every morning you wake up! I do and He is faithful to open my eyes to see and know Him better.

He used a shampoo bottle to get my attention. What is He using to get your attention? Don’t ignore it! Examine it and ask God to open your eyes to what you are missing.

 

 

 

 

4 Steps to Love God With Your M.I.N.D.

Reading book

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing all I can to love God. That may sound like a strange statement, but it’s honest. As I fight the battle between the flesh and spirit I find myself growing weary of giving God my all.

Recently, I read a familiar passage of scripture that washed over my spirit convicting me to take a closer look. The scripture comes from Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

While reading it the Lord said, “Jodi, are you loving Me with all of your mind?

Whoa! I knew I was loving Him with all my heart and soul, but I could not say yes to His question. So, I replied with a question:

“Lord, how am I supposed to love you with all of my mind when my thoughts are battling between right and wrong, lies and truth…?”

Do you love God with all your mind, or would you be asking God the same question I did?

God is aware of the difficulty we experience loving Him as He desires us to. Knowing this He has provided us with a powerful weapon that can overthrow the enemy of our mind. His word!

The question is whether or not we will use it. But to use it we must believe God’s word, surrender to it, and live it out.

Are we going to give in and let the flesh win because we are tired of fighting the enemy or will we unleash the power of the Word and claim ground that is the Lord’s?

If God wants us to love Him with our mind, and He does, then no wonder the battle is so intense. The enemy is threatened when our minds are fixed on Christ because we live in peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

The enemy, Satan, is a deceiver, liar, thief, and seeks to distract our thoughts in hopes to lead us down a path of destruction (1 Peter 5:8).

I am willing to stay in the fight using the weapon, the word, God has provided. Are you?

To strengthen my resolve to stay in the battle I created a four-step process using an acronym with the word MIND. (By the way this is God’s answer to my question to Him.)

To help us recall M.I.N.D. click HERE for a printable.

While the process sounds simple, the application of it will prove its need of preparation, awareness, perseverance, and unyielding commitment.

Meditate

Intentionally ponder about God’s truths, and His promises. Recall times He answered your prayers, provided, protected, and proved His awareness of you. The more you meditate on His word and track history the more you will have your mind fixed on Him.

*Create 3×5 cards with scriptures that encourage you, remind you to love God, and inspire you to worship Him. Place them in your car, on your desk, and on your mirror.

Identify

What causes your thoughts to drift away from God? Identify the pitfalls, triggers, so you can be on guard the next time they encroach. Knowing is half the battle.  Take comfort in the knowledge that His word heals and delivers us from destructions (Psalm 107:20).

Navigate

God’s word is a lamp guiding our path, so use it as you navigate a new thought pattern (Psalm 119: 105).  Begin by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).  Think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

Declare

Make a commitment declaring that you cannot do this without Him, but with Him you will be victorious (John 15:5).  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it (Philippians 4:13).  Declare that you will strive daily to love Him with all your mind (Psalm 37:5).

By the time you have gone through “M.I.N.D.”, you will find your thoughts have been redirected, and you now have the upper hand. Let’s not give up on fighting the flesh so that the spirit may win. God is our strength!

The next time your thoughts are unhealthy, destructive, untrue, or deceptive pause and remember “MIND” (Meditate-Identify-Navigate-Declare). Practice until it becomes second nature.

I pray that when God asks us if we are loving Him with all our mind we will all say, “YES,” and with all our heart and soul, too.

When loneliness invites company

Young woman enjoying the nature

Have you ever felt lonely? I imagine everyone has felt it at some point in their lives. To be honest I struggle with it more than I care to admit. Sometimes the loneliness is short lived and other times it is a lengthy battle. I know I am losing when I hear the Enemy whispering lies and I begin wondering if there is any truth in them.

Lies such as:

  • Your friends have forgotten about you.
  • You are not needed.
  • Protect your heart, and keep others at a distance.
  • No one else feels the loneliness you do.
  • You are all alone.

Has the Enemy whispered similar lies to you?

When we are in a state of loneliness, the suffocation of it can prevent us from fighting. We fall limp at the feet of the Enemy hoping for a glimmer of light from God to strengthen us.

During one of my battles of loneliness, I went before the Lord and pleaded for His help. I asked for His light to shine in my darkness. I needed to hear His truth about my situation, feelings, thoughts, and fears. I went to Him because He has never lied to me and He can be trusted.

He led me to the book of Psalms 62-63. As my eyes fell upon Psalms 62:10 my heart sank deep within.

“Do not trust in oppression.”

The Mariam Webster dictionary describes oppress as a sense of being weighed down in body or mind:  depression an oppression of spirits

It was clear to me that I was trusting the whispers of defeat, despair, and desolation. But the battle between my heart and mind raged as they conflicted one another.

Then the Lord drew my eyes back up to Psalms 62:8

“Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

As I began pouring my heart out to God and choosing to trust Him, rather than in my oppression, something began to happen. His light began to overpower my darkness. The battle between my heart and thoughts were beginning to properly align.

However, there was one more step He led me to take.

The step was found in Psalms 63:3

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.”

I craved His lovingkindness because this life was feeling bleak. I knew I was to praise Him not just within my heart and mind, but out-loud. This sounds like a simple action step, but when we are in despair, depressed, and lonely it can feel like a daunting task. At first, my words came out as a mumble. However, the more I spoke of His glory, might, power, and majesty I became overwhelmed by His presence with stronger pronunciation.

My loneliness had invited God to join me for company. The battle was won because God heard my praise and my cry for help! My breathing became deeper, thoughts clearer, and eyes brighter. The truth was prevailing and my trust was no longer in my oppression but in almighty God.

Are you in need of His presence? Praise Him out-loud.

Are you in need of His power? Trust Him to do what He says He can do.

Are you in need of His truth? Go to His word and let the truth set you free.

The next time we sense the darkness of loneliness crouching over us, let’s be quicker to turn to God and praise Him. Praise Him with a LOUD voice, because the Enemy cannot withstand our praise to the God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings. There is power in His name!

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.

 

Following Jesus Takes Grit

Have you ever made a promise to God not knowing what kind of resolve it would take, but you were all in?

In my late twenties, God called me to follow Him into ministry. In yielding to His calling I promised God I would never turn down an opportunity to share with others about the mercy, grace, and redemptive power He granted me. I committed to following Him anywhere, anytime, and at any cost.

Little did I know what kind of grit I would need to keep my commitment.

There have been seasons when I wanted to retract my promise. Seasons that were too hard, too overwhelming, and too painful to forge ahead.

Have you ever wrestled with keeping your promise to God?

Click here and join me over at Contagious Joy ministries to read the rest of the story.2016-06-27-abigail-keenan-barnimages-008

 

Choosing to celebrate rather than grieve on Mother’s Day

Caring hands

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time of year for me. Is it for you, too?

I struggle with a mixed bag of emotions; Full of grief and celebration. I have said goodbye to two wonderful moms in my life. The first was to my biological mom as she lost the battle with cancer at the age of 46. The second was to my adopted mom (my mother-in-law) that lost the battle to congestive heart failure at the age of 58. I grieve that I cannot call them on the phone, sit with them on the porch, laugh at silly jokes, or contemplate life together.

While I grieve their absence, I celebrate that they are in a better place with the Lord. I celebrate that there were times that I could cry on their shoulder, laugh until we wet ourselves, talk about different paths of life, and dream together.

I celebrate that I not only had a mom that wanted me but also loved me.

I celebrate having a second mom that took me in and loved me as her own.

Celebrating life is far better than grieving it, but many of you have no celebration within to offer.

Maybe you don’t know your mom or have a strained relationship with her.

Sister, we can choose to grieve what could, should, or would have been, or we can choose to celebrate what is true.

  • Celebrate the life we were given by God and the life He chose to use to bring us into this world.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

  • Celebrate the Moms God has given us:

MOM=My Other Mothers

Let me explain.

While I was blessed with two amazing mothers, God also gave me the gift of many other mothers.

My childhood girlfriends shared their moms with me.

A close neighbor that adopted my mom, as if she were hers, also loved me like a mom.

Women within the church have taken me in as a daughter.

My Step Mom of 28 years and Mother-In-Law of five years loved me as their own.

The many other mothers God has placed in my life have loved me with open arms, counseled me with great wisdom, taken me shopping, sat up late talking, and fed this hungry girl many times.

Who in your life has mentored you, spent time with you, shopped with you, cried with you, or prayed with you?

Celebrate them on MOM’s day (My Other Mothers’ Day) and let them know how grateful you are for them.

We will grieve our losses, but let’s honor God by celebrating the women He has brought into our lives. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let God’s Voice Be Louder Than Your Fears

 Woman and rain shower

Have you ever felt lost while traveling? You call out for help, but no one answers. My husband had military orders to move to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and we decided to save money by moving ourselves. He drove the U-Haul truck full of our meager belongings, and I followed in our car. We were all set to communicate freely via the CB radio and use an atlas to navigate. This was before cell phones, y’all! I knew if I could keep the truck in my line of sight, I would be okay. Before we would approach a turn, Chris’ voice would come over the CB radio giving me a heads up. I was comfortable following his lead, trusting he knew the path we needed to take.

It wasn’t until nightfall my comfort turned into intense distress. The heavy traffic caused us to separate, and I could no longer see the truck. I called Chris’ name over the CB radio several times. Panic gripped my heart when I did not hear a response. I had no idea where I was, the traffic was pressing in on me, and I started crying hysterically. My fears of the unknown jammed my logical thinking, and I became a wreck.

Have you ever felt alone in a situation and panic set in?

Have you ever cried out for help and felt like no one could hear you? It’s possible this is something only I have struggled with, right?

When we allow fear to grip us, we tend to react illogically. Analyzing what the outcome could be, we can get overwhelmed and let negativity sidetrack us. The noise we create in our panicked mind blocks us from hearing anything other than our inner voice. This can leave us feeling unheard, alone, and lost.

But here’s the good news: God’s word can comfort us and bring us to a logical state of mind:

  • Be mindful God hears us.

 In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help;             He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6)

  • He calls us to be still.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10)

  • He alone is our calm.

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul. (Psalms 94:19)

  • He is always before us and will never leave us.

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I am a little embarrassed to admit, but that night on the dark highway, when I was gripped by fear, I was not calmly calling out for help-I was screaming! I was screaming so much so that I had to force myself to breathe before I passed out. It was at that moment I heard a voice.  It was Chris calling my name, “Jodi I hear you. You are okay. Please calm down.”

He then proceeded to navigate me to an exit where we reunited. I was so busy crying out for help I did not stop long enough to hear his response. Sometimes we do that when we are crying out to God and wonder why He has not responded. Perhaps during our crisis, if we instead paused long enough to listen for God’s response, calm and peace will fill our hearts and minds.

Let God’s voice be louder than your fears and louder than your inner voice. What He has to say will help you get back on course.

If you are like me and lose sight of God from time to time, just remember He is right there beside you. He is willing to respond to your cry, quiet you with His love, and navigate you to a place where you can become still and know He is God.

He’s got the wheel, and He’s got you, friend!

 

 

 

White Puff Balls And The Gospel

Young Woman blowing dandelion

I was honored to write this for Contagious Joy Ministries.

Wildflowers and weeds occupied the large lot next to the home where I grew up. I loved wandering around the turf searching for treasures. I especially liked to find dandelions. Their yellow petals transform into a white puff ball called a seed head. Finding my treasure, I would bend down, carefully breaking the stem without causing the ball to fall apart. While holding my breath, I held it close to my chest making a wish. Then, I would bring it up to my mouth and blow it as hard as I could. The white puff ball exploded in every direction as if carrying the message of my wish to a magical place.

As I recalled this childhood memory, I recognized that as believers in Christ Jesus, we are much like the white puff ball of the dandelion. To continue reading click here.

This was first published at http://www.ContagiousJoy4Him.com